Legislature debate slows to a crawl as senator promises to filibuster every bill this session

Posted at 5:55 PM, Feb 23, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-23 19:25:49-05

LINCOLN, Neb (KMTV) — On Thursday the Legislature’s agenda had 18 bills that could potentially come up for debate.

The first was LB147.

Legislative Bill 147 has to do with property taxes but you wouldn’t know that by listening in on the debate.

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“For me, personally, I don’t care if you know who I vote for, I will tell you who I vote for, for committee chairs,” said Senator Machaela Cavanaugh during Thursday’s debate.

Cavanaugh’s disjointed conversations are part of a well-known political tool, the filibuster, sometimes referred to as talking a bill to death.

In the Unicameral Senators can introduce motions and amendments for bills, they are then allowed to speak for five minutes at a time, up to three times, on each motion or amendment.

Other senators can jump in too, and give their time on the mic to the person filibustering.

Once they use their time a vote is held, and if a Senator wants to continue the filibuster, they introduced another motion or amendment and the process starts all over again.

“I want to annoy you. I want you to genuinely be frustrated to all get out with me,” said Cavanaugh.

Cavanaugh’s filibuster is one of the last strategies that liberal senators have in an overwhelmingly conservative body to slow the progress on controversial bills such as LB 626, which would ban any abortions after cardiac activity is detected in a fetus, or LB574, which would ban gender-affirming care for minors.

Cavanaugh said her fellow senators forced her hand with their lack of collegiality and promised they would be hearing from her on every bill being debated this session.

“This body decided they wanted me to go on. I don’t know what we want to call this. My vendetta? On behalf of trans kids? Because this is how the session is gonna be — for every bill,” said Cavanaugh

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